Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Super Size Me and the schools

Also in the Register today was a featured letter regarding the Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me and the "educationally-enhanced" version of it that's being distributed to schools in an effort to better educate kids on fast food and making more healthy choices. This prodded me to blog a post I had been meaning to since I sat down with my wife Kristi to watch the film a couple of weeks ago.

Kristi is a very healthy person, disdaining fast food and never eating beef or pork, and she wanted to watch it. I agreed to join her reluctantly, expecting an anti-capitalist screed by a Michael Moore clone. I was pleasantly surprised by the humor and candor Morgan Spurlock displayed throughout the movie. Of course, his methodology was horribly lacking and not scientific at all, and the conclusions he came to ("I ate nothing but McDonald's and didn't walk more than a half-mile a day for 30 days, and I gained weight and risked heart disease!") should have been obvious to all even without his efforts. But one part of his film stuck with me, and added further vindication to my conclusions on public and private schools.

During one section of the film he left the McDonald's side of the issue and highlighted what kinds of foods are served to the kids in America's schools, and what they tend to choose when left to their own devices. There were bad kids who ate chips, cookies and soda (which I never did growing up, no, never!), but there were good kids who ate healthy or brought lunch from home. Likewise, there were bad schools that served pizza and mac & cheese and cake and brownies, but there were good schools that offered steamed vegetable dishes and the marginally-better Gatorade rather than soda.

This only affirmed my belief that every issue that can be made about schools, no matter which side you fall on, and no matter what it's about, is one more thing that can be made a competitive advantage by private schools in competing with each other, and therefore a decision factor that parents would be able to use to decide what school is best for their kids. Every kid (and every parent) is different, so it's obtuse in the extreme to believe that a one-size-fits-all solution is going to turn out the best graduates. But if parents want their kid to attend a school that serves healthier food, they should be able to choose that school. If they're going to be sending homemade lunches to school with their kid, maybe they'd rather save money on a school with a more thrifty lunch program (or none at all), and they should be able to choose that school.

Everywhere I look, more examples of this variety jump out at me. I have yet to come across an issue or component of school policy that can't be used as a determinant that, in a privatized school system absent of government control, would empower parental choice in their kids' education - but if I ever do, rest assured that I have the intellectual honesty to post here about it.


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